Yes.  Since everyone is inoculated with oral bacteria, a person’s susceptibility to periodontal disease varies because of an inherited or “genetic” component and because of inherent risk factors.  These risk factors can affect your susceptibility to developing periodontal disease and inversely Periodontal Disease can affect the systemic disease severity.  Some diseases and risk factors that connect the head to the body are:

•    Poor oral hygiene.  Obviously, the more effort you put into taking care of your mouth by brushing and flossing the less of a risk you have for developing Periodontal Disease.  Not only that, but, there are up to 700 different bacteria found in the mouth and periodontal disease is contagious.  Kissing someone with periodontal disease or even sharing a drink, or a straw, with an infected friend can pose a risk.

•    Smoking.  Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor reducing peripheral blood flow thereby lowering the body’s natural defense mechanism to infection.  It also produces carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas that binds to hemoglobin and cytochrome thereby reducing oxygen transport and blocking oxygen utilization.

•    Medications.  Many medications cause a condition known as Xerostomia or dry mouth which can be a major contributing factor to dental caries and periodontal disease.  Anticonvulsant medications cause the gums to excessively overgrow the teeth (gingival hyperplasia) and immunosuppressant drugs will do just that – suppress your immune response to infection.

•    Diabetes.  Diabetes predisposes people to developing a more severe and progressive form of periodontal disease; and once the oral infection is established it exacerbates the progression of the diabetes.  Studies have shown that diabetics have an exaggerated response to infection, producing greater quantities of pro-inflammatory mediators, such as cytokines, than healthy non-diabetics.  These inflammatory mediators are thought to decrease insulin receptor sensitivity and therefore “diabetic-like” symptoms.  It has also been suggested that cytokines may damage insulin producing B-cells in the pancreas, directly causing Type 2 Diabetes.  Furthermore, there is an apparent association of these inflammatory mediators playing a role in the pathologic process of cardiovascular disease. The inflammatory byproducts from periodontal disease, enter the bloodstream and trigger the liver to produce inflammatory proteins, c-reactive protein, that inflames arteries and promote blood clot formation. In addition to periodontal disease, diabetics often have other associated oral complications.  These complications may include a high rate of dental caries, xerostomia or dry mouth, painful burning mouth, poor wound healing, candidiasis or oral fungal infections, salivary gland infections, halitosis or bad breath, loss of taste, inflamed lips, and apthus ulcers or canker sores.

•    Cardiovascular Disease.  Heart attack and stroke are leading killers in America.  New research suggests that chronic infection, such as periodontal disease, increases risk for cardiovascular disease.  The bacteria can directly infect heart tissue causing a bacterial endocarditis or indirectly by producing inflammatory proteins, c-reactive protein and interleukin-6, inflaming the arteries and causing clot formation.

•    Renal Disease.  Chronic kidney disease is a growing epidemic.  As the kidney deteriorates, toxins build up, electrolytes (salt) get out of balance, and water accumulates in the blood leading to a cascade effect of more systemic inflammation and host of health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, stroke and osteoporosis to name only a few.  How does periodontal disease relate to kidney disease?  Bacteria from periodontal disease enter the blood stream increasing the inflammatory burden on the liver (directly or indirectly) causing toxins and enzymes to destroy kidney tissue and impair renal function.

•    Obesity. Several recent studies show that obesity is not only associated with serious diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes, but that it is also linked to periodontal disease. Adipose tissue (fat) cells secrete pro-inflammatory mediators (cytokines) causing a low-grade systemic inflammation leading to tissue damage, arterial inflammation and blood clot formation. Researchers at the Forsyth Institute in Boston found that subjects considered overweight were 3 -5 times more likely to have periodontal disease. In fact, a specific bacteria associated with deep periodontal pockets, Tannerella forsythia was found to be present in higher concentrations than in normal weight subjects.

•    Diet and Nutrition.  It is clear that nutrition plays a vital role in achieving and maintaining good health as well as preventing and treating many serious diseases. However, most of us fail to recognize that the signs and symptoms of our diseases point directly to our poor diets and noxious environmental exposure. Not only can a good diet improve our health but a bad diet can negatively impact our health. In fact, diseases are manifestations of an underlying metabolic, hormonal, chemical, or enzymatic imbalance caused and/or contributed by a chronic or acute nutritional imbalance. For example, in the last 15 years the incidence of diabetes has doubled. Furthermore 90 – 95% of all Type II Diabetes has been linked to obesity and inactivity.

•    Pregnancy. During pregnancy the immune system moderates so as not to harm the baby. This moderation renders the mother more susceptible to infection. In a recent study, a  bacterium, Fusobacterium nucleatum, associated with periodontal (gum) infection was linked to premature births and stillborn infants. It was found that the lowered immunity resulted in an increase in periodontal disease resulting in bleeding gums. Bacteria from the bleeding gums enters the bloodstream and crosses the placenta. It appears that F. nucleatum targets the amniotic fluid when the immune system is working below optimum triggering the preterm births and still born infants.

Periodontal Disease - Are You at Risk?
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Arestin Oral Health Self-Exam

If you are concerned regarding this information click this link and take the Arestin Oral Health Self-Exam.  Arestin is a a FDA approved sustained-release product containing an antibiotic to help fight Periodontal Disease.  We use Arestin in connection with many of our treatment options for Periodontal Disease and have had great success in the reduction of the severity of the disease with this product.

Yes, really.  You need to know more about your risk for Periodontal Disease.  It is an important health concern that impacts your entire body, not just your mouth.

What Can You Do?  Read our informational articles listed below and call the office (813.908.2444) to plan your individual treatment needs.  In addition, you will want to take the Arestin Oral Health Self-Exam discussed below.

What is Periodontal Disease?

What Causes Periodontal Disease?

Stages of Periodontal Disease

Periodontal Disease - Are You Really at Risk?

Periodontal Disease:  The #1 cause of tooth loss in adults.